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40 Green Street Lunch

A very welcome addition to the Noho landscape. Authentic French pastries, great sandwiches, fast friendly service and worthwhile hole-in-the-wall ambiance. Recommended.

Dec 06, 2009
LTGARCIA in Southern New England

Mexican Food Heaven

Honestly is there anything more entertaining than watching gringos argue about what constitutes "authentic" Mexican food? Or trying to out credential each other with who knows more Spanish or has lived more places blah, blah, blah. Who cares people? You are not going to find Mexicans that will agree on what is authentic never mind Yankees. Mexico is a very large and diverse country whose cuisine has blended the traditions of many cultures and been co-opted by others, most especially in the Southwest U.S. There is not such thing as truly authentic Mexican anymore, it all depends on where you go and that's true in Mexico as well. You're going to have a very different "authentic" Mexican meal in D.F. than you are in Veracruz or Zacatecas.

So fine if you want to specify what you mean by "Mexican" - obviously in the U.S. and most especially in New England, people think that Mexican food = super cheesy Tex Mex. Why? Because that's all they've ever had under the moniker of "Mexican". Does that mean TexMex is less authentic than more traditional mainland Mexican cuisines? No, it doesn't. TexMex has a very long and esteemed tradition of evolving flavors and combinations and isn't some new bastardized invention. Like all cuisines, there are many varieties and some are good and some aren't so good. Some people have a clue what the original dishes were like and some have none but aren't afraid to try a bastardized version anyway. Usually the latter approach results in disaster of some sort, but not always. I'd rather see folks characterize as best they can the general sort of Mexican cuisine offered at an establishment and then whether the food is delicious and/or interesting or not. Trying to out authenticate each other is a bit pointless, especially in this area. Even the great Rick Bayless once claimed that no one in Mexico eats flour tortillas and sorry, but that just ain't true, especially anywhere Monterrey or north. So he's not infallible either.

All that pontificating of my own aside, I will chime in my own opinion that La Veracruzana is mediocre at best. And it's one of the only Mexican restaurants in the general area actually owned by a Mexican. Martín is a nice guy, hailing from Poza Rica originally, but he's not committed to high quality cuisine. The most redeeming thing about his restaurants in my opinion is that they serve horchata. And even that is from a mix, but it's delicious all the same and you just can't get it anywhere else around here.

Mi Tierra was originally owned by Mexicans, at least when it was in its original location in the front of the Hadley mini-mall it occupies, but is was only a grocery store then. Since it moved to the back and turned into more of a taqueria, I do find their food to be more like the taquerias in Mexico and southern Texas than Veracruzana for sure, so in that respect you could say it is more "authentic". However, I'm not sure if the original couple from D.F. (Mexico City) still owns it or if it changed hands since a number of people have referred to the owners as Central American, but I'm not sure if they are speaking from first hand knowledge or just repeating mis-information they've heard elsewhere. Their clientele is definitely more Central American than Mexican simply because there are far more Salvadorans than Mexicans in the area. They do sell real mocajetes there, which made me happy since I've never wanted to lug the things back from Texas or Mexico in my luggage. Given the slim pickings for Mexican style cuisine around here, I'd pick Mi Tierra over Veracruzana personally.

That said, I would also caution people away from Mama Iguana's, a gringo owned joint in downtown Northampton, unless your only goal is good margaritas (which they do have with a dizzying array of tequila options). They have really awful molé and even misspell the spanish names of various dishes in numerous places on their menu (really dumb and inexcusable in my opinion - it's poblano not pablano you idiots!) The only palatable dishes I've had there are the enchiladas. The rest - forget it and have a liquid meal. Claudio (the owner) needs to stick to Italian or some other cuisine he has the slightest clue about - or at least do a lot better homework next time he ventures into new ethnic territories, in my opinion.

May 31, 2008
LTGARCIA in All New England Archive

P-town: the OK, the bad, and the ugly

I second the recommendation for the Mews. Get a table downstairs with windows on the beach at Sunset. Or eat at the bar if you want an entertaining social experience as well as great food.

May 31, 2008
LTGARCIA in All New England Archive

Any restaurant in New England-- any suggestions?

I'd recommend the Blue Heron in Sunderland MA. Two hours from Boston, in an old New England brick meeting house building. Fabulous food and lovely atmosphere, perfect spot for a drive into some nice countryside as well. http://www.blueherondining.com/

May 31, 2008
LTGARCIA in All New England Archive

Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Ginger, Cardamom, and Honey

Made this for an impromptu meal with friends and it was a hit - really good, though I went easier on both the cardamom and ginger than the recipe called for and was glad I did because I think it would have been too strongly flavored otherwise. As it was, it came out just perfect. Great accompaniment to a garam masala and mustard pork loin.

May 11, 2008
LTGARCIA in Recipes